Monday, June 6, 2011

It's not wasted

I just hobbled into work today after a great weekend in San Diego with family and friends. And when I say hobbled, I'm not fact, that's probably a generous description. The truth is that on the way back from paradise, I actually considered using a wheelchair at the airport, I thought about the genius of escalators for the first time in my life, and I held back tears that were neither joy nor sorrow. The reason for my new swagger was an injury I sustained while doing my best to run the Rock and Roll Marathon yesterday.

After my
dad's passing, a few of us decided we were going to do something that would honor his life, and we would all run in the marathon in his honor. Initially there was a lot of big talk from everyone, including myself, about doing the full marathon. As time wore on, most of us decided that a half marathon would be just fine, or even as many miles as we could do. Not all of us were, after all, made like the "Man of Steel" who, in his very short 56 years on this planet, managed to run many races including over a dozen marathons, which he started doing after his first heart attack at age 43! If he could knock out a few hundred miles over his lifespan, surely we could suffer a few for him, too.

I had run a few races with him, from the Journal Jog here in Reno, to the bridge-to-bridge runs in SF when I lived there. He always wanted me to step up and do a marathon with him, and regrettably I never did. So this time I started training and mentally preparing myself for a long one, knowing it would hurt. I had no idea how bad. It wasn't the fatigue or mental toughness that ended up getting to me, as I had expected. Instead, it was the extremely painful snap of my left Achilles tendon around mile 8 that let me know the day was going to be a rough one. I'm still not sure what exactly I did to my Achilles, causing a grape-sized ball to appear on it after I passed Spreckles' Theater in beautiful downtown San Diego, but knowing I had a long way to go, I started compensating for it by putting an unbalanced load on my right foot as well.
According to the black tone and swelling of the top of my right foot today, whatever I did wasn't a good choice. The back of my left ankle is now much mellower, and almost looks normal, but I am walking like an old man that lost his cane at the moment, and my stats from the race are equally as unimpressive. In fact, after reaching the halfway point, knowing I wasn't going to have a good rest of the race, I slowed down a bunch, and decided I would just cut over and finish the half marathon with the majority of the group at the merging point. Unfortunately I didn't do that correctly, and added an additional 2 miles of doubling back and forth on the "half" course until I finally started the last one mile stretch to the finish...walking across the line in less than my greatest form.
All said I did about 17 miles and got a medal I didn't really want. I wanted the medal for the 26.2. But the amazing thing about the human body is it's ability to heal, and I know that I'll have another shot, another time, and I intend to get it done for him. For me.

And looking back on the weekend, I have a lot of highlights to reflect on. The weather in San Diego was so perfect; sunshine and soft winds welcomed us in and wafted in my memory as we landed in the grey, rainy conditions of our Juneuary in Reno.
Anna and I got to enjoy the Gaslamp District, a USD Alumni Retreat mixer, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, and the lovely hospitality of the good people and great accommodations of the Sheraton Harbor Island...a surprisingly great value with a balcony overlooking the ocean and a great view of the infamous SD skyline.
I got to spend some awesome time in my old stomping grounds, and I got to enjoy the sights of one of America's greatest cities in a way I never had before.

And despite my slightly sullen outlook on the minor details of "my" race, in the big picture I am actually pretty stoked about what we did for my dad. After all, this is a family, and we all pitched in as follows:

  • Erin knocked out 8 miles
  • Beccy stepped up and did 13.1
  • Paddy flew through his 13.1 (and may or may not be suffering some similar injuries today)
  • Mo and Matt (from their "satellite" race in New Zealand) each did 13.1
  • Chelsea did 13.1, and in the most impressive gut-check of the weekend,
  • Brendan, my uncle and my dad's younger brother, sucked it up in a big way and knocked out the whole damn 26.2. A studly job for his studly brother...and he thought about him along the way, to be sure. Brendan, there is no doubt in my mind that my dad would be proud. Way to go, dude.
All told, we knocked out about 116* miles for Pat Egan, (and for my personal "motto" that I came up with somewhere along the journey over the last new months: "Cancer Can Lick My Balls"). While I don't think anyone outside of our little group had the same motto...actually, maybe nobody except for Brendan, really, I mean he made it happen...there were plenty of like-minded folks along the way. I was often, throughout the run, overwhelmed with emotion when I would pass by someone who had a picture of their father, mother, sister, brother, friend, neighbor, etc on their back.

The people they were running for had all died from cancer, I noticed. They were all pushing themselves hard to raise awareness, emotion, and spirit for the same thing. I was both impressed and humbled when I tried to get my camera out in time to take a picture of a guy running the full marathon with one leg and a prosthetic spring-like device where the other one belonged. My humility turned to near-shame when I couldn't get my camera out fast enough, and couldn't catch up to him as he disappeared into the horizon on the 163 highway. "Fuck," I thought, "I just got my ass kicked by a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest." So true.

And that's what so many people did and continue to do every day...they kick ass. They don't make excuses. They don't get held down by adversity. Just like my dad, they don't subscribe to the philosophy "Youth is wasted on the young." It's not if you continue to enjoy what youth you have up until the day it is gone. That's exactly what my dad did, and that's why I know I'll be back to knock out the whole thing as soon as my crippled-ass allows. In the meantime, I'll enjoy some nice memories of a great weekend, and a wonderful effort by a family that misses it's strongest member every day.

*Updated...sorry, Matt.


mohap247 said...

Well a HUGE effort from the "Egan" clan... what a group of studs! I had no idea you got injured!It was a lot tougher than I thought and I just kept thinking about how we were all giving it a go and that is HUGE. I get a little teary even thinking about it. What a beuatiful post Bri. Love you!

John O'D said...

Great job, all of you, and great post, Brian. I'm sure Pat is extremely proud!

mohap247 said...

Firstly. You write beautifully...i wish i had that gift. Secondly...HAHAH I did not even notice the incorrect sattelite numbers...glad we could add some more miles in :)Take care of yourself you bad motorscooter.

'tricko said...

Great post, Bri' -- I'm envious of anybody who can run, regardless of how wobbly or halting. Hope your Achilles is no longer achillying you . . .